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Australian retailers to ‘wage war’ against Amazon

IANS | Canberra |

Australian retailers are preparing for the invasion of US giant Amazon, and have vowed to take the fight up to the online-based store when it comes to local shores.

Amazon confirmed its rapid Australian expansion by announcing its search for a site to build its "fulfilment centre" – a large warehouse for storing and shipping goods purchased online, Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.

However local retailers, mostly from electronics and homewares division, including Harvey Norman's founder Gerry Harvey, said he would make it hard for Amazon to succeed Down Under.

Harvey Norman sells electronics, furniture and bedding – all markets in which Amazon hopes to hold a stake.

But Harvey has said that it would happily go toe-to-toe with the American behemoth to maintain its share in the Australian market.

"In America and other parts of the world, they (Amazon) have just demolished other retailers, no question about that, and they send a lot of retailers broke," Harvey told News Corp on Monday.

"There is no question they have one ambition, and like Attila the Hun, or Alexander the Great, they just want to demolish everything in front of them and then at the end of day claim to be victorious and make their own rules."

"So this is a company that is extraordinary by any measure and defies every rule that has ever been written about a business."

Some analysts have said that Amazon could take in as much as $three billion in sales in its first five years in Australia (around one per cent of the total $225 billion market).

However, Harvey has refuted those claims, saying that local retailers would be putting up "one hell of a fight" when Amazon launches its main retail services in Australia.

"We will be out there fighting them like no American retailer has ever fought them," he said. "Any price that they put we will beat or equal."

Meanwhile, Harvey's thoughts were backed up by those of former CEO of supermarket chain Woolworths, Roger Corbett, who said Amazon would struggle to replicate its lower wages and claims of lightning fast delivery to rural parts when it opens in Australia.

"Amazon will have an impact on the market place, but they are coming into an already very competitive market," he told News Corp.